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Course: History 1, Africa (2024): Country Background

Using encyclopedias/reference books

Encyclopedias/Reference books help you build background knowledge on your research topic. Below in the left column are encyclopedias that have both general entries on African countries, as well as topic specific entries. In the right hand column are links to reliable websites that have detailed profiles about countries on the African continent.

To review the lesson on when, why, and how to use encyclopedias watch this video.


The best place to start for getting background information on your assigned country are Encyclopedia Britannica and CIA World Factbook. It is recommended that you use these two sites to learn about your country.

Encyclopedias/Reference books

Guiding questions

These guiding questions will help you get the most out of your encyclopedia articles:

  1. Who is mentioned in this article? Include names of key people, political parties, organizations, etc.

  2. When and where does this article cover? Note if this article covers a specific location and time period.

  3. What events, concepts or ideas are in this encyclopedia article?

  4. How does this encyclopedia article connect to other things you know, such as what was in your current event story? 

  5. What do you need to know more about after reading this article and what search terms could you use to find what you need?

  6. Look at the bibliography and identify what other potential sources you could look for. Note the names and authors of books and articles from the bibliography or further reading.

  7. Summarize what you think this article is saying. You can write this as a bulleted list.

  8. What stood out for you in this article. What ideas does this article generate that you want to explore further? 



Citing your sources

Need more help?

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